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No one else will remember or know what we are going to say here. Even I will forget, unless you let me remember. This is is the way things work here. No one has to be a stranger.
The Quantum Thief is Hannu Rajaniemi's debut sci-fi novel, and the first of a planned trilogy.
In a post-Singularity solar system slowly being eaten by a community of uploaded minds, Mars has remained independent and unique thanks to its extreme attitude to privacy: all memory is externally stored and encrypted, and you can't access a memory unless everyone involved consents. This makes life pretty difficult for detective Isidore Beautrelet, but as a native Martian he wouldn't have it any other way.
Also due to make life difficult for Isidore is the Gentleman Thief Jean le Flambeur, a figure of legend who's modeled himself on Arsène Lupin. A debt of honor requires Jean to commit a daring heist, but first he must steal back his own memories from the Oubliette of Mars. He's accompanied by Mieli, the bitter post-human masterminding the mission, her flirtatious spaceship, and the goddess she reluctantly serves.
The Quantum Thief provides examples of:
- Bizarrchitecture: The city of Oubliette on terraformed Mars is built on the backs of titanic Atlas Quiets, uploaded human minds controlling gigantic robots. In result it's always on the move, and its layout is constantly changing as the Quiets move around each other. As far as bizzareness of architecture goes, it's actually one of the more normal locations in the novel's transhuman future.
- Clock Punk: The Oubliette, most notably with the Watches that measure each citizen's time as a Noble before they are turned into robotic Quiet.
- Emperor Scientist: The seven Sobornost Founders are implied to have been the first group of scientists who figured out human mind uploading and quantum entanglement, and realized that this puts them above any corporation or government on Earth in terms of power if they keep it for themselves. The King of Mars also qualifies.
- Expendable Clone: The Sobornost Founders have uploaded their minds to millions of artificial bodies. These collectives are called copyclans, and their members synchronize their memories and brainpower whenever they are together, allowing them to be everywhere in their massive empire at once. It doesn't matter if a few die, since there's always backups. Although their interests don't always coincide, and some of the Founders are said to be in war against themselves. Also, the main protagonist, Jean le Flambeur has millions of copies of himself trapped forever in the Dilemma Prison, but he's just happy that he was the one that got away.
- Gentleman Thief: The title character.
- Hide Your Lesbians: The very first chapter establishes that Mieli is lesbian, and that her entire motivation for serving the Sobornost is to reunite with her lover and soulmate Sydän. However, it never comes up for the rest of the novel, since she isn't the book's main focus character and isn't prone to revealing her motives easily. Considering how important Sydän is made to be in the first chapter it can be assumed that she will play a greater part in a later part of the trilogy.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: What would you expect from an upload collective descended from an online roleplaying guild?
- Sapient Ship/Spaceship Girl: Perhonen.
- Sticky Fingers: Jean will risk going to a literal hell just to steal a piece of jewelry.